Tips to Teach Kids Responsibility After School

By 7/21/2023 05:29:00 PM

The back-to-school season means some children will become “Latchkey” kids, whether due to cuts for after school and sport programs, expensive childcare, or they're at an age parents feel they can be home alone for a few hours.

Tips to Teach Kids Responsibility After School
photo credit: Antoni Shkraba via Pexels

But rather than allowing a child to set his or her own after-school schedule, parents can create a teachable moment.

To show how parents can easily build their own after-school programs, Gregg Murset, co-founder & CEO of BusyKid, shared a few guidelines to help children benefit from the “teachable moments” to start them on the path into responsible young adults.

Set Expectations with Goals, Rewards & Penalties

No matter the age of your children or what you are trying to teach them, it’s important to set real goals, rewards for a job well done, and penalties if something goes wrong.

By having clear goals, rewards and penalties, children of all ages can understand the benefits of following directions and weigh the consequences of any bad decisions.

Determine the “Trust Factor”

On a scale of 1-5, how much do you trust your child to be home unattended?

If the number is 1, you will need to keep your child busy, and possibly, set some high penalties if something goes wrong. If the number is 5, give your child enough tasks to remain productive or possibly in charge of others.

Communication Is Key

Make sure your children understand that there is no such thing as over-communication throughout any time home alone and that you actually demand regular updates.

Set times to get short updates and then have full “downloads” when you get home. Use dinner or breakfast as the time to catch up or discuss what’s coming up.

Fill Time By Doing Projects

Set a schedule for your children so that each day there are different chores to do and that the chores fit the proper ages. Make sure the chores fill enough time and can be finished by the time you get home.

Also, build in some short breaks so your children have time to unwind from a tough day at school. Again, depending on the age and “trust factor”, the amount of time that needs to be filled can vary.

Follow Through

No matter whether your children do a great job or a poor one, you need to follow through with the rewards and penalties. Kids are smart enough to know whether parents will stand by their word or not and whether there is any bite behind that bark.

While this is about keeping your kids safe and active, it’s also about teaching them work ethic, responsibility, and accountability. So, praise and reward them for a job well done and remain strongly committed to the penalty you set for failing to meet expectations.

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